Since 1997, just about everybody under the sun has offered a take on the life and death of The Notorious B.I.G. Now, his mother and closest friends will have their say in the first estate-approved documentary Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell. The film premieres March 1st on Netflix, and the first trailer is out now.
The project is the brainchild of Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace and Wayne Barrow, the rapper’s former manager and current manager of his estate. “Mama Wallace and I had a conversation about creating the first Estate sanctioned documentary about BIG’s life,” Barrow said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “The story of Notorious B.I.G. has been told multiple times but with one note and we felt it was important to delve into the mind of Christopher Wallace, tapping into the influences in his life as a young man that inspired his creativity, his ability to stimulate and evoke emotion with his visually stimulating word play and flow in a way that was authentic and compelling.”
Executive produced by the Voletta Wallace and Sean “Diddy” Combs, the documentary was first announced in 2017 with the expectation that it would be finished soon after. That didn’t work out. “The running joke about documentary films is often how long they take to make,” director Emmett Malloy said. “This film lived up to all those stereotypes, taking us four years to develop and make it. Through those years we were immersed in Brooklyn in the 70s through the 90s. It is easy to see how much Brooklyn has changed since Christopher Wallace was a kid, but it’s also clear that many things about being a young black man in this country have not changed.”
While plenty of books and movies have focused on Biggie’s meteoric rise and violent fall, I Got a Story to Tell shines the spotlight on his early years. It gives fans a look at the “artist before he was a rapper,” according to Damian “D Roc” Butler, a childhood friend who provided much of the film’s early footage. “Big was always a visionary. There will never be such a crazy time in Brooklyn as the 80’s and 90’s, out of great struggle, comes great art and music. The Brooklyn kid rapping today won’t have the same stories we have to tell.”
The new trailer provides plenty of candid looks, showing Biggie shaving in hotel rooms and dominating rap battles as a teenager. We also hear from Voletta and Diddy about his drug-dealing years, with the elder Wallace saying, “He disrespected my house.” Check out the trailer below.
Over twenty years after his death, The Notorious B.I.G. continues to tower over the pop culture landscape. Last November, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the months before that, an unreleased Biggie freestlye was used in a Pepsi commercial, and the MC’s iconic plastic crown fetched $594,000 at auction.